Monday, March 5, 2012

Magic Squares = Magic Math

I found a wonderful little book at the library about magic squares. Magic AND math? Really? What could be better?!?!

A magic square is a square grid of different numbers. When you add the numbers across, down, and diagonal, they all add up to the same number!

My son and I read the beginning of Colleen Adams' book, which explained magic squares and shared the ancient tale of a tortoise in China whose shell had dots that formed a magic square.

The book also shared the engraving by German artist Albrecht Durer from 1514 that contained a magic square that added to 34.

To give my son a little math practice, I made some number magnets 1-9, using the same process as the alphabet magnets I’ve made in the past. Then, I gave him a small magnetic board and arranged several of the magnets, leaving four or five off. It was up to him to figure out where to place the remaining magnets to equal 15 in every row, column, and diagonal.

He needed to use both addition AND subtraction to complete the magic square! What fun!

Download the number magnets I made, as well as four configurations of magic squares that add to 15 here.


  1. The magnets would make this easier to do. When we did it, we just wrote on a white board, but the magnetic numbers would have been better!

  2. I'm linking over from Adventures-in-Mommy-Land. This is such a cool idea! My girls are only three, but I'm bookmarking this to revisit in a couple of years!

  3. Cool! This is a wonderful activity.

  4. very fun idea! I am going to look for this book & try out the activity, too. Thanks!

  5. Wow! That's some advanced stuff for a first grader...I'm impressed. It's amazing what they can learn when we make it fun for them.

  6. I love magic squares... I don't know why I never thought of making them "manipulative." My daughter would love this! Thanks so much for sharing your idea!!!

  7. Very cool! Anything to make math fun.
    Stopping by from TGIF- glad I found your blog. Love the name:)

  8. I love this idea! My son likes magic squares, but I think doing it this way will push that "like" into "love." Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Thanks for posting at Math Monday!!!
    Cindy @ love2learn2day

  10. Very interesting! I am going to try it with my daughter. Pinning it right now...

  11. Thanks so much for this printable and the subtraction tirangles. I shared them on my FB page -

    1. Thanks for sharing with your FB followers, Kylie! These puzzles have been SO fun for my son. I hope others with try them with THEIR kiddos!

  12. WOW What a great idea. I'll be doing this with my 6 year old son soon ;-)


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